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Great Natives of Midwestern Ecotype

March 2011 Edition

Cover Photo: Pasque Flower (Anemone patens) April 8, 2010 Š 2011

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Great Natives Of Mid-western Ecotype

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A New Crown Joule for Fuel? Plant Profile


Native on the Net


Best Books


Organization Spotlight


Native News


Planting with a Purpose


Invasive Research




Fantastic Fauna


Focus on the Future


Did you know... Invasive plants are spreading over approximately 1,729,730 acres per year of U.S. wildlife habitat? Scientists estimate that invasive plants cost our economy $35 billion in damages and treatment each year!

If even some of what Joule Unlimited claims its new biofuel process can do is true, the energy industry is about to be revolutionized. In a press release that came out in mid-February, Joule Unlimited, Inc. unveiled a new advance in biofuel technology. Their new process, which creates fuel directly from photosynthesis is unlike any other biomass fuel production. Since it creates fuel directly from the sun‟s energy, they claim it yields up to 50x the maximum potential of any other process utilizing biomass. Traditional biomass fuel production relies on harvested organic material being digested by algae, which then can be converted to fuel. This requires large areas for growing and production facilities. Cost has been a determining factor of biomass fuel success when compared to petroleum –based fuels. Joule Unlimiteds‟s new process eliminates the need for biomass all together, and can be created

Joule Unlimited‟s SolarConverter® using their SolarConverter® panels (see above). These resemble traditional solar panels, but contain water and genetically engineered cyanobacterium. These bacterium directly use the photosynthesis process and excrete a biodiesel fuel into the surrounding water. The panels take up very little space and could even be placed next to other industrial facilities and use the CO2 released from them to produce fuel.

Some other statistics from Joule‟s website sound amazing. Based on empirical measurements, Joule can directly produce 15,000 gallons of diesel per acre annually, as compared to 3,000 gallons of biodiesel produced indirectly from algae. They also claim that their direct “solar-to-product” conversion is 550x more efficient that other biomass fuel productions and can compete with oil. Pilot production is in the works. Time will tell if full-scale plants are possible.

GNOME’S MISSION Great Natives Of Mid-western Ecotype (GNOME) is an organization focused on the preservation and expansion of native floral and faunal species. The mission is to provide a netbased forum where mem-

bers can share their passion, plans, ideas, and questions with other people having a common interest.

1. Join our facebook group at

You can participate in many different ways.

3. Visit or link to the website 4. Pass on the newsletter. group.php? gid=45643568296


Submit articles, pictures, stories, or plans for publication.

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Geum triflorum– Prairie Smoke Since I have taken such a long hiatus, look for a new Name that Native on the website for the April edition. Don‟t forget to vote! This plant actually has many common names associated with it– Old Man‟s Whiskers, Purple (or Red) Avens, Long-

“A wise old owl sat on an oak, the more he saw, the less he spoke. The less he spoke, the more he heard. Why aren’t we like that wise, old bird? ~Alice Akers

Low-growing Prairie Smoke add unique accent, especially en masse


plumed Avens, Three-flowered Avens, and also Prairie Smoke.

nodding red flowers. These turn to wispy seed heads and remain on the 12” stalks for a while. This is the whisker or smoke look, The original range of these particularly when grouped with plants was from was typically in other prairie smoke plants. the western US, though did extend into the northern Midwestern states as well. Unfortu- Faunal associations include sevnately, this plant is uncommon eral types of smaller bees. These to rare in much of its original need to force their way into the range due to competition with flower to get to nectar or pollen. These plants are not usually eatother plants. en by mammals, making them a nice addition to gardens with high This plant is mound forming. populations of deer or rabbits. It generally grows to be about 6” to 10” tall and spreads through rhizomes. Leaves are This plant favors drier sites. They pinnately compound and work very well at the front of borsemi-evergreen. They usually ders. Southern and/or western darken to burgundy in the fall. exposures and full sun can make This early bloomer (late this thrive. spring/early summer) has


Sometimes wading through sites looking for good resources on native information is just too time consuming. This section should help! This month‟s featured site is : The Biota of North America Program

NET This site is the culmination of over 40 years of research on “wild” vascular plants. What does that include, you might ask? Only individual maps of over 21,500 species– right down to the county level per state! AMAZING!!! In addition to this wealth of information, this site provides you with various ways of

searching for the plant you are wanting to find. This plant atlas allows you to look by genus, family (traditional & modern), phylogenetically, or by special features. Since this project melds so many different sources of information, you may also critique their maps with your own expertise! What a great, free site!

BEST BOOKS– THE NESTING SEASON The Nesting Season: Cuckoos, Cuckolds, and the Invention of Monogamy by Bernd Heinrich is a must read for anyone interested in birds. This book looks at the courtship and mating relationships of birds. By using his own observations and rational scientific synthesis, Heinrich blends good nature writing with interesting biological data to change how we think about our feathered friends and also our human relationships.

Heinrich covers various mating arrangements within the avian world. Polygamy, monogamy, and various relationships in between are the main topics with many interesting examples. Who new that some birds even use a wing man? I particularly liked how

Heinrich started with looking at a bird‟s typical, observable behavior and worked back in evolutionary time to come up with possible causes for those manifested behaviors.

Another great thing about this book is how he walks the fine line of anthropomorphism without discrediting the scientific data. In fact, I believe he makes a strong argument that birds do love, grieve, and bond with partners in similar ways to our human understanding of Understanding bird behavior will those emotions. change how you view our own!

G N O M E N ew s

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O RG A N I Z AT I O N S P O T L I G H T : GARDENSMART PLANTWISE PROGRAM “The Plantwise program gives

gardeners easy tips on how to manage their garden to preserve the unique qualities of neighboring wildlands. This program was created by a partnership between many organizations including the National Park Service, Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center, Garden Club of America, and National Invasive Species Council. The website itself is a very general gardening “how to” and guideline based platform. For those simply wanting to increase

awareness about native and invasive plants, or those new to this type of concept, this is a great starting place. I see it as a very useful introduction to environmentally friendly landscape practices. Some nice components of the site include down“to educate the public on best loadable plans for a few management practices” different landscaping designs, a basic guideline list (also available in Spanish), and This is a web-based education their “Invasive to Native” transla- program. There is no memtor. This feature allows you to bership. There are links proinput a specific invasive landvided to other partner organiscaping plant and it translates zations that are also useful. your selection by offering natives with similar attributes.


BEETLE SUCCESS, NATIVES STILL SUFFER A nine year study done in Montana‟s rangeland shows that the weed-eating flea beetle (Chrysomelidae) is effective in reducing the population of the invasive leafy spurge (Euphorbia esula). That is good news because this plant has invaded most of the northern half of North America.


The bad news? That even with the reduction of this invasive, native plants do not readily reestablish themselves in the absence of leafy spurge. In the test plots that were treated with the beetle, an 80-90% reduction in leafy spurge occurred. The absence of leafy spurge provided an opportunity for natives to fill that niche.


In the end, that niche became filled with another invasive (Poa spp.) in the bluegrass family.

“The greatest gift of the garden is the restoration of the five senses.” ~Hanna Rion

This study magnifies the importance of early invasive plant prevention. Once an invasive disturbs an area, that area will remain susceptible to other invaders.


BEWARE– WILDFLOWERS IN A CAN The term “wildflower” is very loosely used when it comes to seed and plants commonly available. By definition, wildflower simply means a plant capable of growing in natural conditions without human assistance. I was talking to a good friend about a wildflower mix he had purchased to fill a couple of acres of his property. Initially, he found an inexpensive “wildflower” mix online. I sent him a link to a native seed source. He was shocked by the

price difference between the two, after all, flowers are flowers, right? Fast forward three years… and the 1961 folk song “Where have all the flowers gone?” comes to mind. The biggest issue with many “wildflower” or “meadow” mixes is that they use foreign plants, low diversities of plants, and ones that cannot compete with hardier invasives already present.

Pay close attention to phrases like “species vary with availability” and “may contain”. Would you purchase any other product without knowing what you are buying? Imagine opening a can that says “may contain beans” only to find corn inside. A little research will go a long way when looking for seed mixes. Your county extension office is a great resource. There are also many valuable online sources. This is one impulse buy worth skipping.

These mixes are still being sold– this one for $9.95. You get two years of flowers and many more of headaches!

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TO KILL OR NOT TO KILLTHAT IS THE QUESTION The article titled “Invasive Plants Can Create Positive Ecological Change” immediately caught my eye. It goes against everything that I have learned through research and experience while working with native plants. Were my eyes deceiving me? I had to read more, and I believe that this is an issue worthy of attention and debate. It is certainly controversial on many levels. “Are we sometimes doing more harm than good when we eradicate plants that, despite being introduced recently, have formed positive relationships with native animals?" wondered Tomás Carlo. Carlo is an assistant professor of biology at Penn State University and was one of the researchers heading this study.

More birds are drawn to areas containing more food. If there are other fruiting plants in the area, birds will eat a greater variety of fruit, thus spreading those plant seeds as well. The honeysuckle/fruit-eating bird relationship isn‟t the only case of native species benefitting from an invasive. Both black swallowtail butterflies and blue jays have shown benefit from the naturalized Daucus carota, commonly known as Queen Anne‟s Lace or wild carrot. Swallowtail larvae use it as a host plant. Blue jays have used it in nests to reduce parasites like nest lice. Reducing nest parasites increases young bird survival.

Right now, it is usually standard practice of conservation The study involved analyzing services and land managers invasive honeysuckle plants that to remove all invasive plants Area Before (note orange stake in middle of both) Area After from what otherwise might have have become naturalized in may Honeysuckle Management Area areas of the Happy Valley region of been “pristine” nature areas. Pennsylvania with the number of “But the problem is that most fruit-eating native birds that use the area both permanently and native communities already have been changed beyond recogniduring migration. They compared their data from invaded areas tion by humans, and many native species are now rare," argues other areas that have been managed to eliminate the invasive honCarlo. He is as point. Even as far back as the end of the last ice age, humans began to manipulate their natural environment to eysuckle, but still contain other non-fruiting native trees. better meet their needs. That impact has grown with the population and technological advancements of the continent. For a plant to be considered “invasive” by the group, the species not only had to have been introduced by humans, but also needed to be If we assume that this statement about impact is true, for which numerically dominant in the environment. there is also overwhelming evidence, then what is the justification for favoring certain species and eliminating others? We can reEurasian Honeysuckles certainly fit that bill. Most states in the Mid- move invasive honeysuckle to spare the trillium. Are we also placwest have some sort of plan in place to manage these plants on ing migratory songbirds (or other organisms) in jeopardy by doing state owned land such as preserves and parks. To eliminate nonso? native honeysuckle from infested areas requires intense and repeated management of the area. This “could be a waste of time and tax dollars. He explained that when managers and agencies attempt to On the other hand, it is safe to say human environmental impact is eradicate an invasive plant from a particular ecoour responsibility. Are we being less responsisystem, the species often ends up growing back ble if we simply let nature take its course? anyway. „Nature is in a constant state of flux, always shifting and readjusting as new relationships form “It's obvious that the key problem facing hubetween species, and not all of these relationships manity in the coming century is how to bring a are bad just because they are novel or created by better quality of life - for 8 billion or more peohumans,‟” said Carlo. ple - without wrecking the environment entirely in the attempt.” E.O. Wilson "The abundance of fruit-eating birds in the Happy Valley region is linked to the abundance of honeyDespite the many questions that may arise suckle," Carlo explained. Both the native bird popufrom studies such as this one, it will continue lation and the honeysuckle benefit from this arrangement. The birds have food during migrato be important to monitor the changes tion, and seeds get dispersed by the birds. and impact that we are having on our enviCedar Waxwing on Invasive Honeysuckle ronment. Degraded ecosystems with high But how does this provide a benefit to the ecology of that area? In human presence are truly no longer natural. Until we gain a better this study, it was found that other species of fruiting plants (natives) understanding of the interrelated and complex relationships beactually benefited from being in areas containing honeysuckle. Car- tween all organisms living within our ecosystems, we won‟t have lo mentioned it as piggybacking off of the honeysuckle‟s success. enough information to make beneficial decisions about them.

G N O M E N ew s

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I N VA S I V E S -



HYDRILLA! It almost sounds like a creature that would emerge from the water to wreak havoc on everything around it. It ends up that is not far from the truth.

the 1970s. Isolated populations have been found in several Midwestern states including Indiana and Wisconsin.

Hydrilla verticillata, know simply as Hydrilla or also water thyme, in high on the invasive watch list for 2011 in most of the Mid-west.

This plant can grow up to 1” a day. It can also grow in as little a 1% sunlight and various depths. It can live in almost any type of freshwater including ditches, springs, and ponds.

While there is only one species of this plant in the world, there are two forms. The dioecious type (plants having female flowers only) originates from southern India. Hydrilla's monoecious type (plants having male and female flowers on the same plant) is probably from Korea. It is believed to have been introduced in the southern US in the 1950s as an aquarium plant. Wild populations were already identified by

It forms thick mats which crowd out most other water plants, forming a monoculture. By the time the plant is seen at the surface, it usually has quite an extensive presence. There are some look-alikes, but this plant has tubers (see right) that most of its lookalikes don‟t have.

Green= Areas Identified

It can impact fish populations, recreational water activities, oxygen levels, and is costly to control.

F A N TA S T I C F A U N A : T H E B A L D E A G L E Haliaeetus leucocephalus is one of North America‟s most recognized and revered animals. It was adopted as our national symbol in 1782, much to Ben Franklin‟s dismay (he lobbied for the turkey). More than its symbolic importance, it is one of America‟s greatest success stories. This is one of the largest raptors in North America. It has an average weight of between 7-9 lbs. Its wingspan is usually somewhere around 6 feet. The adult plumage is a distinctive white head and tail with brown/black feathers covering the rest of its body. Both feet and beak are bright yellow in adults. It is very difficult to miss an adult bald eagle. Bald eagles use trees for nest placement. These often are used for successive years and can be very large. The largest ever recorded was in Florida and was about 18 feet deep, 9 feet wide, and weighed almost 3 tons! One to three eggs are the usual brood size. There is a unique opportunity for you to view wild eagles on their nest at This nest is in Decorah, Iowa. Check it out!

Bald eagles populations were nearly decimated by the 1970s. DDT, hunting, other pollution, and actual bounties on bald eagles lead to their near extinction in the lower 48 states. In 1973, the Endangered Species Act was passed. At this point in history, there were only about 800 breeding pairs found in the contiguous US. Fortunately, this legislation halted their decline and eagles were upgraded from endangered to threatened in 1995. There are currently over 3000 breeding pairs in the lower 48 states. It takes almost five years for juvenile eagles to get their adult plumage. During this time, they cannot mate. Once adult plumage is attained, they can begin courtship with eligible partners. These aerial displays are quite magnificent. Eagles primarily feed on fish. They are also opportunistic scavengers and eat carrion. Mammals and large birds (like ducks) are other items on their menu.

“There is an eagle in me that wants to soar, and there is a hippopotamus in me that wants to wallow in mud.” ~Carl Sandburg

Great Natives of Mid-western Ecotype (GNOME) is an organization focused on the preservation and expansion of native floral and faunal species. The mission is to provide a netbased forum where members can share their passion, plans, ideas, and questions with other people having a common interest in native species.

Great Natives Of Mid-western Ecotype Primary Business Address 1753 Wick Way Montgomery, IL 60538

Check out our site!!!


We’re on the Web! There’s no place like GNOME!


Join our facebook group! (

This is our primary forum location. The newsletter as well as open discussions are there and also other links to people and groups that focus on natives.

Got an article? Now accepting member submitted news and photos! Once you have something to share, send it to the email listed at left. Monthly news articles will, of course, give credit to the contributor. Everyone welcome!

Fantastic Fauna p.7- accounts/information/Haliaeetus_leucocephalus.html Focus on Future p.8- ar/385/255/2009/04/18/396_hig-eagle-ridge-mall-0419.jpg

Coyote feature p.6– Urban Coyote Ecology and Management Invasives map p.7-

Invasives p.7-

Coyote feature p.6- releases/2011/02/110211095555.htm

Invasives p.7- images/1536x1024/3694013.jpg

Native News p.5- releases/2010/11/101105141613.htm

Invasive Feature (both) p.6– viewDocument.php?document_id=274

Name That Native p.4-

Invasive Feature p.6- releases/2011/02/110211095555.htm

Big Picture-

Planting with a Purpose p.5- wildflower_mixes/all_climate_wildflowers/meadow_in_a_can.html


Big Picture Photo- article/2011/02/27/AR2011022701887.html

References Pictures

Fo cu s o n th e F u t u re I can‟t help but being bothered when I take my son Noah to a friend‟s house in a nearby subdivision. It isn‟t the drive or the friend that bother me, it is the name of the subdivision.

of the area that was once there to create the initial inspiration. I can assure you that Eagle Ridge Mall is not likely to include resident eagle nests or even fly overs.

Black Walnut Hills is a lovely, if not extravagant, subdivision set into glacial moraine hills with mature trees. Just on that description, I bet many of you can imagine its splendor. It has some oaks, many maples (many invasive Norway) green lawns and beautiful landscaping, but I have yet to see a black walnut tree there… There are similar streets, subdivisions, and golf courses all over the United States. Hawk Ridge, Pheasant Run, Stoney Point– the list is as endless as our suburban sprawl. I often wonder if we, as humans, name these places like we do to keep some primal nature connec-

Hawk Ridge subdivision near Fairfax, Iowa lost its chance to include any raptors when all the trees came down and were replaced with houses.

tion alive. Or do we do it to give a nod to the habitat or natural features that were destroyed in the process of replacement? Regardless of our rationale for naming things in this way, the fact remains that there is little chance that the names are truly reflective

What really bugs me about this is the legacy that we are handing down to future generations. Many people will grow up in the Black Walnut Hills homes and never see the beautiful tree it was named for (or even be able to identify it when the do). We are creating a fantasy world disengaged from nature. In the end, the only thing left of what nature really was will be the printed on green and white street signs bearing its name...

GNOME News- March 2011  
GNOME News- March 2011  

In this issue of Great Natives of Midwestern Ecotype News you will find info on new fuel technology, several invasive plant updates, bald ea...